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Stories about...Material Science and Engineering

Angela Pak I-MRSEC’s Virtual REU Undergrads Gain Knowledge, Skills, and Insights into Their Future Careers

August 7, 2020

Although the COVID-19 pandemic precluded I-MRSEC (the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center) from hosting the residential REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) intended for summer 2020–—undergraduate students physically conducting research in Illinois labs—the eleven undergrads from all across the U.S. who participated appeared to have benefitted immensely. What kind of impact did participating in the I-MRSEC REU’s virtual counterpart have on the undergrads? In addition to conducting cutting-edge research in one of Illinois’ labs—virtually—mentored by an I-MRSEC faculty member and/or a Ph.D or post-doc researcher, they presented their results at I-MRSEC's Undergraduate Symposium. Plus, students also gained other benefits from the REU: some became adept at using new software; others gained confidence; still others gained a clearer understanding of the direction they plan to go careerwise—including materials science research—all thanks to I-MRSEC’s Virtual REU.

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Angela Pak I-MRSEC’s Virtual REU to Expose Undergrads to Research, Provide Training in Needed Skills

May 29, 2020

Eleven undergraduate students are participating in the I-MRSEC (Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center) virtual REU this summer from May 27th through July 31st, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the REU isn't business as usual (in-person interactions with researchers while conducting research in one of Illinois’ state-of-the-art labs). However, the students will still gain valuable experiences. They'lll still have face-to-face interactions with researchers (via Zoom?) while conducting research; they'll still be collecting and analyzing their data and presenting their results. And just like last year’s program, they will still do networking, plus gain other useful information and skills related to research and preparing for a career in STEM…all done virtually!

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I-MRSEC REU Teaches Carmen Paquette a Lot About Magnetism, Research, and Herself

August 23, 2019

Carmen Paquette had a lot of takeaways from her experience in the I-MRSEC (Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) this past summer. For one, the rising junior, a Material Science and Engineering major at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, learned a lot about both magnetism and material science. She also discovered what engineering research is like—lots of iterations and lots of thinking outside the box. She also grew personally, learning not to procrastinate, but to “Just do it!” And while she didn’t necessarily figure out if grad school is in her future, she did decide to just follow her heart and go full STEAM ahead when it comes to the things she’s passionate about.

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I-MRSEC REU Exposes Undergrads to Materials Science, Research, and What Grad School Is Like

August 20, 2019

For ten weeks this past summer, eleven undergraduate students from all over the US showed up at Illinois to participate in I-MRSEC’s second Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. As part of the experience, they not only conducted a research project, but they completed a paper and gave a final presentation. Of the 11 students, five were from Illinois (mostly from the Chicago area); six were from out of state (Tennessee, Oregon, Texas, and California). And although none of them are currently Illinois students, after experiencing what cutting-edge research at Illinois is like, some will most likely be applying to grad school here.

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A team of Mid-GLAM campers test the toothpick/gumdrop structure they built by stacking academic journals onto it.Middle School Girls Learn About Materials While Doing Cool Hands-On Activities to “Make Stuff Better”

“I do this, and I will always do this because I think that this is a very crucial age group.” Cecelia Leal on why she does the Mid-GLAM camp.

August 5, 2019

Twenty-two middle schoolers showed up on campus from July 15–19 for Mid-GLAM, a summer day camp designed to pique middle school girls’ interest in materials engineering. In its third year, the camp, led by Materials Science and Engineering (MatSE) Assistant Professors Cecelia Leal and Robert Maass, introduced girls to materials via fun, hands-on activities.

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GLAM Campers Explore Materials, What Studying Materials Engineering is Like

July 31, 2019

Eighteen female high school students from Illinois, and even a couple from the east coast (New Jersey and Connecticut) were on campus the week of July 7–13 to participate in the 2019 edition of Girls Learn About Materials (GLAM). In addition to learning about a variety of different materials, teams of students completed design projects targeting specific materials, during which they learned more about their material and even designed a prototype using it. They also honed their presentation skills by creating and presenting a poster at the end-of-the-week poster session. A final goal of the camp was to foster interactions between the campers and female students majoring in Materials Science.

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Integrative Biology Instructor Joanne Manaster shares an anecdote about learning to use Twitter with the audience.How Tweet It Is! I-MRSEC Workshop Helps Scientists Incorporate Twitter into Their Scientific Communication Repertoire

November 20, 2018

Are you passionate about communicating science, but a bit behind on the latest technology, like Twitter? Do you have an inkling what Twitter is and does, and are interested in finding out about how Twitter might be helpful to you as a scientist? Do you have a Twitter account, but haven’t quite gotten the hang of how to use it? A number of university folk who fit in one or more of the above categories showed up at the Physics Interaction Room on November 14th for a workshop: “Social Media for Scientists: #Tweetyourscience.” As the title implies, workshop participants hoped to find out more about how they might use social media—especially Twitter—to communicate science. Sponsored by I-MRSEC (Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Consortium), Beckman Institute 21st Century Scientists, and Illinois’ Graduate College, the workshop featured a talk by the Grad College’s Mike Firmand, a panel of researchers from Illinois’ science community who have a good Twitter following, plus some small groups based on participants’ level of Twitter expertise.

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Mid-GLAM Camp Exposes Middle School Girls to Materials Science and Engineering

July 11, 2018

What better way to get a bunch of middle school girls excited about Materials Science and Engineering than to let them explore color and making things pretty? That’s exactly what Mid-GLAM, named after its sister camp GLAM (Girls Learn About Materials) did by exposing them to different hands-on activities and design challenges. Mid-GLAM is a summer day camp for middle school girls interested in learning about Materials Science and Engineering. It made a second annual debut from June 25 – June 29 and served students from all over the state.

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GLAM GAMES Uses Common—and Not-So-Common—Materials to Introduce High School Girls to Materials Science

June 28, 2018

Sweet, yummy chocolate—which most girls crave. The ubiquitous polymers. Wild and wacky non-Newtonian fluids. Biomaterials, composites, and crystals. These are just some of the materials 16 girls dabbled in during GLAM (Girls Learn About Materials) GAMES (Girls’ Adventures in Math, Engineering, and Science) camp from June 17–23, 2018. Plus, a design project allowed the young women to explore the characteristics of a commonplace, everyday material, such as cardboard, malleable metal (tin foil), tape, or plastic, to come up with a use that's different from how it’s normally used. All of these activities were designed to give the girls a glimpse into what materials engineering is and what a materials engineer does.

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I-MRSEC’s Alda Scientific Communication Workshop Trains Scientists to Relate to Their Audience

May 30, 2018

What might fun, team-building exercises have to do with communicating? In keeping with one of its chief goals—improving science communication—the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (I-MRSEC)) held “Making the Choice to Connect,” an all-day workshop on Friday, May 18th. Presented by Lydia Franco-Hodges from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, the workshop sought to improve participants’ communication skills by training them to practice relating to others.

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Physics Professor Nadya Mason, PI of the I-MRSEC grant.I-MRSEC: Creating a Multidsciplinary Materials Research Community

March 15, 2018

"The more that people understand the scientific basis of the world and of their lives and of what people are doing and researching and care about, the more we care about each other and the more we support each other." – Nadya Mason

Begun in September 2017, I-MRSEC (Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center), a new NSF-funded center, seeks to create a community around multidisciplinary materials science research, recruiting and educating the next generation of researchers, including diverse students, and informing the general public through outreach. Funded through NSF’s Division of Materials, the Center will receive $16 million over the six years of the grant, with the possibility of being renewed.

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GLAM GAMES Camp Helps High Schoolers Explore Materials Engineering Career Options

September 28, 2017

From wacky wires (memory metal) that reshape themselves when immersed in boiling water, to playing with ooy-gooey non-Newtonian fluids, to molding polymers, the 19 high school girls who participated in GLAM (Girls Learn About Materials) GAMES camp from Sunday, June 18th through Saturday, June 24th this past summer learned about a variety of materials. After hearing a mini-lecture about a given material, the girls then got to do fun, hands-on activities about the subject. Many of the participants, who were exploring materials science in order to make college/career decisions, not only learned some things about materials and what materials engineers do, they were exposed to women in materials engineering who served as role models.

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Local Middle School Girls Learn about Materials at Mid-GLAM Day Camp

July 7, 2017

From playing with Oobleck, the non-Newtonian fluid made famous by Dr. Seuss (which turned out to be quite messy), to making (and tasting!) chocolate ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen, 20 local middle school girls not only had fun at the first-ever Mid-GLAM camp held June 26–July 1. According to the camp’s co-directors, Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professors Cecelia Leal and Robert Maass, the plan was that as the girls had fun learning some things about materials science, their participation in the camp might also pique their interest in science or even plant the seed that they too could be materials scientists..
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Pakeltis Sisters Hope to Increase the Number of Women—Change the World Through Engineering

October 7, 2016

While the old Irving Berlin song, “Sisters, Sisters,” may not exactly be the theme song of the two Pakeltis sisters, a couple of lines fit Grace and Abby to a T. One is the last phrase of: "Two different faces, But in tight places, We think and we act as one." For instance, they’re both studying Engineering at Illinois. Grace, the oldest, is a senior in Materials Science Engineering (MatSE), while sophomore Abby is in Mechanical Science & Engineering (MechSE).
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Devon Goszkowicz: Following Dad's Footsteps to Engineering at Illinois—Blazing Her Own Trail in STEM Outreach

September 15, 2016

Devon Goszkowicz, a junior in Engineering, didn’t attend any STEM camps or outreach activities when she was little. However, one very important person in her life—her father—was an engineer. And now, here she is at Illinois, studying to become one too. And though she didn’t attend any STEM camps or outreach activities herself when little, she currently participates in several that expose girls of all ages and backgrounds to engineering. She's hoping to not just expose them to STEM, but to help them reach their potential, and to possibly even influence them to become engineers themselves.

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Girls Learn About Materials Science at the 2016 GLAM G.A.M.E.S. Camp

August 9, 2016

As its name implies, during the 2016 edition of GLAM (Girls Learning About Materials) G.A.M.E.S. camp, 19 high school girls did just that. From July 10th–16th, the girls learned about a wide variety of materials, ranging from polymers, to biomaterials, to a material that's a favorite of girls everywhere— chocolate. Plus, and probably more importantly, the girls were exposed to numerous female role models in materials engineering.
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.GLAM Seeks to Capture Girls' Imagination About Materials

August 21, 2013

In its third year, the GLAM (Girls Learning About Materials) G.A.M.E.S. camp exposed 18 high school girls to a wide variety of materials, beginning with the perennial favorite of females of any age—chocolate.
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